Washington, Jan 27: The Donald Trump administration in the US has told four top State Department management officials that their services were no longer needed, officials said.
Patrick Kennedy, who served for nine years as the Undersecretary for Management, Assistant Secretaries for Administration and Consular Affairs Joyce Anne Barr and Michele Bond, and Ambassador Gentry Smith, director of the Office for Foreign Missions, were sent letters by the White House that their service was no longer required, the informed sources told CNN on Thursday.
All four, career officers serving in positions appointed by the President, submitted letters of resignation per tradition at the beginning of a new administration. The letters from the White House said that their resignations were accepted and they were thanked for their service. The White House usually asks career officials in such positions to stay on for a few months until their successors are confirmed.
"Any implication that that these four people quit is wrong," one senior State Department official said. "These people are loyal to the secretary, the President and to the State Department. There is just not any attempt here to dis the President. People are not quitting and running away in disgust. This is the White House cleaning house."
Mark Toner, the State Department's acting spokesman, said in a statement that "These positions are political appointments, and require the President to nominate and the Senate to confirm them in these roles. They are not career appointments but of limited term." He continued: "Of the officers whose resignations were accepted, some will continue in the Foreign Service in other positions, and others will retire by choice or because they have exceeded the time limits of their grade in service."
Greg Starr, director of diplomatic security, also followed through on his planned resignation. He had come back from retirement after the 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi and promised to stay through the end of the Obama administration. "This had been on course for over a year," another official said. "He came out of retirement and promised to stay out (of) the administration. If Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders were elected, he would still be retiring."
The firings leave a huge management hole at the State Department, with a combined 150 years of institutional experience among all of the named officials. The second official echoed that the move appeared to be an effort by the new administration to "clean house" among the State Department's top leadership.